August 25, 2016 – August 31, 2016
HistoryLink is Changing
This week we've got some exciting news about HistoryLink.org -- the first phase of our ongoing redesign is nearly complete and you'll be able to experience a brand-new HistoryLink beginning next Thursday, September 1. Besides providing better access for those of you using tablets and smart phones, our new look should be more responsive to your needs. All of our content is still here -- and growing -- and our hope is that it's easier for you to browse, search, and enjoy this online encyclopedia of Washington history. You'll find out more after our soft launch -- see you then!
Conceived by Walt Crowley, Paul Dorpat, and Marie McCaffrey, HistoryLink was launched in 1999 as an encyclopedia of Seattle and King County history. Even with only 300 or so essays at the start, traffic grew quickly, and then later that year we found ourselves thrust into history when we had the only webcam that documented the WTO protests and police action in Seattle's Westlake Center. The world watched history happen through the eyes of HistoryLink.org.
Once the dust settled, people who discovered HistoryLink found reasons to keep coming back. More essays were being added, and the site was soon being used by educators, students, journalists, history buffs, and more. Because of our success as a record of Seattle and King County history, we expanded our reach in 2003 and began documenting the history of the entire state. Other states now have online encyclopedias, but we are by far the most comprehensive.
Sadly, we lost Walt Crowley when he died in 2007, but his wife, Marie, took over as Executive Director and has guided us on ever since. Our last redesign was in 2009, when there were far fewer mobile devices in use than there are today. Changes in web use, as well as the vast amount of content on this site -- more than 7,000 essays and growing -- have led us to improve the way we present history. Stop by next week, and let us know what you think. (Photo by Michael Cain)
One hundred years ago this week, on August 25, 1916, the Montlake Cut connecting Lake Washington and Lake Union was opened and Lake Washington soon began to drop, by an eventual total of 8.8 feet to the level of Lake Union. The work was part of the construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, which had begun five years earlier. As the water level in Lake Washington fell, and that in Salmon Bay to the west rose to match the level of Lake Union, the changes had a dramatic effect throughout King County.
At the south end of Lake Washington, the Black River -- which had been the lake's outlet into the Duwamish River valley -- disappeared, which helped reduce flooding in the valley. Meanwhile, construction of the Ballard Locks on the other end of the ship canal led to the raising of water levels in Salmon Bay, home of Fishermen's Terminal, turning it from a saltwater inlet into a freshwater bay.
Communities around Lake Washington gained waterfront, but most of it was originally wet goo. On the Seattle side of the lake, where Montlake Boulevard ran, a few extra feet of land extended from the roadway, and much if it is now used as open space. On the other side of the lake, a sandy beach was exposed in Juanita Bay, which became a popular resort and later a park. In Bellevue, the American Pacific Whaling Fleet chose Meydenbauer Bay as its freshwater home port once the canal provided a connection to Puget Sound. And in Renton, acres of exposed shorefront would years later become home to one of Boeing's manufacturing plants, as well as an airport.
News Then, History Now
Tapping the River: On August 31, 1908, the Methow Canal Company pipeline across the Methow River was completed. The pipeline drew water from the Twisp River for distribution to farmers in Okanogan County, and eventually led to the creation of the Methow Valley Irrigation District.
Goods to Deliver: On August 28, 1907, two teenage messengers named Jim Casey and Claude Ryan established their own downtown delivery service. United Parcel Service grew out of the dispatch office in the basement of a Seattle saloon, now marked by Waterfall Park in Pioneer Square.
Moving On: On August 31, 1936, Spokane's last electric trolley car rolled through the city streets bedecked in funeral crepe. At the end of its last run it was lit on fire. This week also marks the last Lake Washington run of the ferry Leschi on August 31, 1950. The boat was later towed to Alaska for use as a salmon cannery, and was last seen collapsed in the muck near Valdez.
Crossing Over: On August 26, 1956, the Skagit River Bridge opened north of Mount Vernon. It made national news three years ago when it collapsed after being hit by a truck. And on August 28, 1963, the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge opened across Lake Washington. It was replaced by a new bridge earlier this year.
Twist and Shout: Fifty years ago this week, on August 25, 1966, the Beatles played two concerts at the Seattle Center Coliseum. And two years later, on August 30, 1968, the Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair opened a three-day run near Sultan. A second festival was held a year later in Tenino.
Starting Out: Three days after the city of South Cle Elum turns 105, four much-younger King County cities celebrate anniversaries on August 31. Shoreline became a city on that day in 1995 and Covington followed suit two years later. Kenmore incorporated on August 31, 1998, and Sammamish became a city a year after that.
Quote of the Week
So what use does history serve? Ultimately, just one: It helps us to be more human. Subtract all analytic or pragmatic applications, and you are left with the story -- the essential narrative defining our place in time and in the stream of our culture.
Image of the Week
Captain George Pickett began construction of Fort Bellingham on August 26, 1856.